How to add personality to your characters

Eavesdrop like a pro.

I’ll admit I’m not very good at covertly listening in to other people conversations. Although there are times when it’s impossible not to hear. Sometimes it’s hard to talk to my dining companion because I’m transfixed by a loud couple at the next table. I want to whip out my tiny notebook and make notes. But, that would be a bit conspicuous. Don’t you think?

Why do I find eavesdropping awkward?

Because I grew up in a tiny house with lots of siblings and nosy parents. Privacy was a luxury. The only place to talk or read without others listening in was down by the creek. No mobile phones then so forget about a private conversation on the one kitchen phone. Even with a cord that reached all the way to the coat closet, someone was listening.


But if I want my characters to be real, to have different personalities I need to get away from my desk. Mingle, listen and yes, eavesdrop.

Today, I read a great article, published in The Writing Cooperative, about how to accidentally, on purpose, listen in on strangers.

How to Master Eavesdropping — You Know You Want To by Bryan Searing

What I learned from Bryan…

  1. There are two types of eavesdropping.
    • Sneaking around and spying, like my little sisters used to do.
    • Accidental-unintentional, as in overhearing conversations in a public place.
  2. Get away from the computer and mingle with people.
  3. Brian’s Rules to Master Intentional Accidental Eavesdropping

    • Be sensitive and respect privacy. Some people whisper in public, so don’t be rude.
    • Best places to eavesdrop is where there are lots of people.
    • Don’t stare! Act normal.
    • Where to sit or linger.

Be sure and read his entire article to get more details on how you can eavesdrop like a pro. I’m gonna work on my accidental eavesdropping skills and try not to blush or giggle. 

Tell me, do you eavesdrop in a crowd?

Have you gotten ideas for character by eavesdropping?

Did Bryan’s article give you any ideas?

Did the article change your mind about listening in to others conversations?

Write about your experiences in the comments. I can’t wait to read them.

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